How COVID-19 Changed the Property Management Business

How COVID-19 Changed the Property Management Business

3 min read
Remen Okoruwa

Remen Okoruwa is the co-founder of RentDrop, a free software tool that helps landlords and property managers collect rent and maintain their units.

Remen has a background in the software industry and business strategy, working as product manager at HubSpot and previously serving as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company.

He has property management experience working supporting his family’s residential real estate portfolio with units across the Midwest and Texas.

In addition to BiggerPockets, he writes about on property management topics for the RentDrop blog.

His writing has been featured on the HubSpot, OpenView, and Insight Venture blogs.

Remen received a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University, cum laude.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted nearly all businesses, including property management. Since the coronavirus outbreak in March, many people could no longer go to work, businesses shut down, and “normal” day-to-day activities were severely curtailed. People had to hunker down at home, hoping that the virus would disappear fast.

For property managers, the coronavirus crisis brings unique challenges. Social distancing, shelter-at-home mandates, travel restrictions, rent collection, and property maintenance are just some of the challenges impacting landlords.

To overcome these difficulties and avoid spreading the virus, landlords—commercial and residential—had to think outside the box. It was necessary to go digital and connect with clients without physical contact.

So, what have these changes meant for property management companies? What will property management look like in a post-COVID-19 era? Are the changes landlords are making now the “new norm” when dealing with tenants?

Let’s take a closer look.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Property Management

With stay-at-home orders and many people now working from home, tenants’ needs are changing. Residential renters now require faster internet connections and more space at home to work.

But this change could have implications for the commercial property management sector. Many large tech and finance companies have already said they plan to make working from home accessible for their staff.

Related: How Coronavirus Is Changing Americans’ Living Situations

man seated at table wearing mask looking at phone in hand and waving to someone on video call

Here are some other facts about the impact of COVID-19 on housing thus far:

Adapting to Changes in Property Management Due to COVID-19

Landlords need to adapt quickly to the changes that COVID-19 has brought. Because many technological advances in the property management sector help streamline operations, many will change the industry forever. What must landlords do?

According to a report by KPMG, there are three ways landlords can survive the coronavirus crisis:

  • Assess impact: Landlords need to assess risks in their business to mitigate their effects.
  • Adopt new measures: New business methods are necessary to reduce operating expenses and meet tenants’ needs.
  • Adapt business strategies: To meet future demands in the industry, new digital initiatives are crucial to adapt to the real estate sector’s new reality.

Related: Coronavirus: How to Maximize Rent Collections During a Crisis

How Property Management Has Changed Post-COVID-19

Let’s look at three ways property management has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these changes are new measures that landlords are taking to adapt their business strategies.

Coronavirus Yoga at home sign lightbox with text hashtag #STAYHOME glowing in light with exercise mat, cork blocks, strap meditation pillows. COVID-19 banner to promote self isolation staying at home.

1. Landlords are going virtual

Due to social distancing mandates, landlords are now conducting much of their business virtually. No longer do landlords meet new tenants at the property, show them around, and then sign a paper lease. Most work is now done online.

Cloud-based technology has made it possible to do most property management tasks remotely. Here are a few examples:

  • Arrange for virtual walkthroughs to show prospective tenants rental properties.
  • Use electronic signatures to sign leases.
  • Accept online rental applications.
  • Use property management apps to collect rent, accept maintenance requests, and communicate with tenants.
  • Carry out virtual property inspections.
  • Install lockboxes to allow tenants access to properties without landlords being physically present.

Many analysts say that digital technology will transform the way landlords operate even after the coronavirus has passed.

Related: COVID-19 Evictions Could Lead to Real Estate Market Fallout

2. Landlords are communicating proactively with tenants

Apart from using digital tools for rent collection and lease signing, successful landlords see the need to communicate frequently with tenants. The majority of renters face financial uncertainty during the coronavirus. Landlords who are proactive in communication find that it’s easier to work out solutions to rent payment issues.

Many rental property owners who use property manager apps also find it easier to communicate with tenants. For example, it’s possible to send bulk text and email or share documents with all residents.

3. Rental property maintenance

The COVID-19 health crisis meant that landlords had to rethink how they carry out essential and non-essential property repairs. Laws mandating social distancing and concerns about the virus mean that tenants want to limit in-person interactions.

Of course, there’s no question that it’s crucial to carry out emergency repairs quickly. But landlords are coming up with intuitive ways to care for non-essential maintenance and repairs. For example, landlords send step-by-step tutorial videos on how to do certain repairs. Or they do doorstep drop-offs with the equipment and necessary replacement parts.

Many landlords realize that video calling has the potential to address issues with non-essential repairs in the future.

Changes in Property Management Due to Coronavirus

Beginning in March, landlords had to quickly and utterly rethink the way they operate. But thankfully, digital technology provides property managers new and exciting opportunities to transform their business.

While some tenants will want to visit apartments after the pandemic is over, virtual tours will still be an option for many. Other technologies such as online rent collection, e-signing documents, and property management apps look set to stay.

Due to COVID-19, the way property managers and landlords operate has changed forever.

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Landlords and property managers: How have you adapted your business practices in the wake of the coronavirus?

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